Super Bowl 2013: Grins and Groans

Super Bowl 47 is in the books, and with it, so is another chapter in advertising history. Football fans got what they wanted – a very exciting game that came right down to the end, with strategy, comebacks and even a second half blackout to make it interesting.

Advertising fans, not so much. The advertising was generally blah. No real game-changers this year. Just a lot of bland messages delivered in neat packages. Not including a ZILLION CBS promos, there were nearly 70 commercial airings between the National Anthem and the final play of the game. So here are my GRINS and GROANS for Super Bowl 2013.


M&M’s doing a funny riff on Meatloaf’s “I Would do Anything for Love”;
Oreo’s “Library” whisper-romp;
GoDaddy’s “don’t wait to register”;
Sodastream’s “bottle savers”;

I loved the Tide “Miracle Montana” spot. Well thought, well executed, and well played by the wife character (who happens to be a Ravens fan, duh) in the spot. Smartly executed. Would have loved to have seen it in the first half, though.

Has to go to Audi for its “prom” spot*. It was one of the very few spots that drew the viewer in with a real narrative tone and you couldn’t help but rooting for the main character. In the spot, we learn of a young man who is clearly depressed about having to go to the prom by himself. But Dad intervenes, throws him the keys to the new Audi, and the kid starts to feel his oats. He races a limo off the line at a traffic light; he parks in the principal’s spot at school, and he walks right up to the prom queen and plants the I’ve-loved-you-since-6th-grade kiss on her. But he pays for all that courage. The final scene: same boy, driving home, black eye: Best. Prom. Ever. The spot ends with the tagline “Bravery. It’s what defines us.” See it here:

* BUT WAIT. There’s an asterisk. Here’s a note on why Audi’s minute-long love story is not a perfect message, especially considering the mostly male 20-something audience. While I appreciate the courage it takes to finally let your feelings be known to the girl of your dreams, it does NOT excuse the behavior of this boy. Kissing a girl without her permission is simply NOT okay, (even if she secretly liked it.) I love seeing a hero, especially in advertising. But NOT at the expense of a young woman’s privacy and dignity. So it makes sense that he gets socked in the eye. But societal norms, or better judgment, or an ad agency that should have known better, should have PREVENTED that scene from happening, instead of him being punished by a jealous prom king boyfriend. If this spot were politically correct, he would have gone stag to the prom, exchanged some nervous glances with the prom queen, and then perhaps they could have met at the punch bowl for a MUTUAL confession of their affections. I would much rather see him drive home with her phone number scribbled on a napkin…the promise of a future rather than the finality of a blaze of glory. The promise is what most of us can relate to. The hope. The hope against hope. The what’s-next-in-this-crazy-story anticipation. And heck, I’d rather do all that waiting in a nice Audi. Too bad – they went Hollywood and did a less-than-perfect spot. But, gosh, it was still really, really good advertising – using storytelling wisely.

And now the GROANS.

The WTF GROAN: I just don’t even get it.
Ram’s “Paul Harvey/Farmer” spot. Wow, what a wonderful sentiment. Wow, what a terrible waste of money for a car marketer.

Taco Bell’s “retirees’; a long way to go and too far-fetched for fast food
Beck’s Sapphire “singing fish”; NOT the bom-diggity it was intended to be
Mercedes “devil”; just seemed like a waste of talent, all those teases and airtime.

GoDaddy’s “kiss” spot. Besides being gross, it (again) decided to denigrate women in the process of making a point about style and substance. UGH! At least throw us a curve ball and make Bar Rafaeli the IT girl. Jeez!

What did YOU think of the Super Bowl spots? I’d love to hear!

This article first appeared on Technorati.

9 thoughts on “Super Bowl 2013: Grins and Groans

  1. markkolier February 4, 2013 / 9:44 pm

    Great post Nader and I fully enjoyed the Audi spot and while I understand your point about enhancing the future potential of the relationship, the spot would have lost the edginess that made it cool.

    I kind of liked the Taco Bell retiree spot more than most. Did not care for the goat Taco Bell spot. GoDaddy left me cold – nothing new there.


    • Nader Ashway February 5, 2013 / 1:03 pm

      Absolutely, Mark. The kiss-the-girl convention is just that: a convention. And it served this spot exceedingly well. The Taco Bell spot, while I didn’t like it as a useful means of elevating the brand, was still a pretty good piece of entertainment. Perhaps the strategy there was “elderly people can act the way they want – even if the way they want is youthful and silly…and if that means ending a night of debauchery devouring a few Gorditas in the Taco Bell parking lot, so be it.” I guess that’s one way to “live mas.”


  2. Joe Sacco February 4, 2013 / 9:54 pm

    We hear it every year… is Super Bowl advertising all about comedy and shock value? Does it HAVE TO target an audience? Niche it’s message (like good advertising does)? Or is it there just for the exposure to the masses?

    Well, thanks to the people at Wieden & Kennedy, Dodge RAM’s “Paul Harvey/Farmer” was brilliant niche marketing expanded to reach the masses – even IF it were a stolen concept from YouTube (which it was, but more on that in a minute). Let me explain… it niched farmers as truck buyers, which they are. It niched most truck buyers as rural, which they are. But it expanded the reach of the message by tying it to a concept so genuine, so elemental, so true, that it couldn’t help but tug at your heart – even if you’re watching the game on the 54th floor of your gleaming steel and glass condo hi-rise. It’s truly emotional. Like a mini movie… albeit stolen from and their YouTube upload in June 2011.

    Yes, it’s every Creative Director’s nightmare: blatant plagarism. But hey, the idea is solid. It’s too bad that it wasn’t original. Too bad for the W&K Senior Writer and Art Director who will be looking for jobs tomorrow. And too bad that some people will disregard the simple brilliance of the idea, because what millions saw last night was a superbly art directed concept that saw it’s birth in a more simpler, online, consumer medium. With simple and mundane editing. But this WAS different. Bravo Dodge (and W&K), for making the year’s best Super Bowl spot by NOT swinging for the gutter.


    • Nader Ashway February 5, 2013 / 1:13 pm

      Excellent points, Joe. I guess I was just reacting as a responsible agency owner. I can’t even imagine going in to my client, presenting a 2-minute Super Bowl buy, then using a speech – albeit a wonderful one – from 1978! – that glorifies farmers to sell my TRUCK brand. I guess it was just too…indirect. I totally hear your point about triangulating with farmers who may happen to be truck owners, and likely American truck owners. Totally get it. But with 120 seconds, at a steep price point, to only give the brand about 8 seconds of airtime for a beauty shot and a tagline…it just seemed to me to be about something ELSE than the brand. And where I come from, that’s just not what you do to or for your clients. I must be wrong. Rob Lowe loved it. And he’s obviously an advertising genius.

      My guess is that Ram is wrapping their 2013 (and perhaps beyond) strategy around farmers, and this was the opening salvo in that campaign. To be sure, (and in that context,) this was pretty awesome as a piece of content. And I guess that’s how it will fit in to that strategy.


      • jsacco99 February 5, 2013 / 4:47 pm

        Nader, as always… great insight and on-target thinking. It lacked consumer benefit, no doubt. But Budweiser Clydesdale spots have never been about product benefit… nor have Coca-Cola polar bears… or Coca-Cola clapping hands and singing from the precipice of the Grand Canyon (I want to Teach the World to Sing, 1972)… so while I believe that all good marketing must try FIRST to espouse the benefit, it is within reason to assume that the world’s biggest brands have an obligation to try and make the brand “emotional” at some point. We are, in fact, human. And while we marketers believe that we are the last bastion of reason (not decency!), we must bow to the fact that sometimes consumers make decisions purely on emotion. That’s what this was. Thanks for continuing the discussion.


  3. Alison McKeon February 5, 2013 / 2:43 pm

    Wow. This is impressive. I absolutely love your recount and truth be told while watching the game I couldn’t wait to read your interpretation. Bravo!! We are lucky that a person with your talent and vision who is at the helm of the creative ship called advertising is also a man with a social conscious! Well Done!!


    • Nader Ashway February 5, 2013 / 3:05 pm

      Well thanks, Alison. I appreciate the read. Advertising is very subjective – as you can see even by the comments above. What I like is not necessarily what everyone else likes. Most people LOVED the “farmer” spot, but I saw it as a misfire for the RAM brand. I didn’t even comment on the Doritos crowdsourced spots, but many people thought those were GREAT. But I appreciate your point of view and thank you for sharing!


  4. seprince April 25, 2013 / 5:31 am

    Hello, its good paragraph on the topic of media print, we all know
    media is a fantastic source of data.


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